September 14, 2022  |  12:00 pm  -  1:00 pm

Van Andel Institute Virtual Public Lecture Series: At the crossroads: Epigenetics and chance in health and disease

Our health sits at the crossroads of many influences, from genetics and epigenetics to our environment and our diet. Believe it or not, luck or “chance” also works with these factors to influence our health — just like a roll of the dice. Join Van Andel Institute’s Dr. Andrew Pospisilik as he highlights how luck can change our health and the health of future generations.

Dr. J. Andrew Pospisilik is a leading expert in the study of how the epigenome regulates complex trait variation as well as disease susceptibility and heterogeneity. He earned his B.Sc. with honors and his Ph.D. in Physiology from University of British Columbia, where his work focused on type 1 and 2 diabetes. Later, as a postdoctoral fellow in the lab of Dr. Josef M. Penninger at IMBA Institute of Molecular Biotechnology, Dr. Pospisilik performed the first genome-wide RNAi-screen for obesity in Drosophila, identifying some of the first specific developmental regulators of brown adipose tissue formation, and overturned dogma showing that compromised mitochondrial function actually buffers against diabetes. In 2010, he established his laboratory at Max Planck Institute of Immunobiology and Epigenetics in Freiburg, Germany, where his team made groundbreaking advances, including development of novel sensitized models for understanding epigenetic stability and variation in metabolic disease; the first formal proof for the existence of polyphenism in mammals (including suggestions in humans) and the first mapping of a genetic architecture for mammalian phenotypic buffering. In 2018, Dr. Pospisilik joined Van Andel Institute as a director of its Center for Epigenetics and a founding member of its Metabolic and Nutritional Programming group. He is the recipient of numerous awards and accolades, including the 2016 Novo Nordisk Helmholtz Young Investigator Award, the 2015 GSK Award for Basic Medical Research, the 2013 EASD Rising Star Award and the 2011 RISE1 Award from the Epigenesys Network of Excellence. He also is a member of the World Economic Forum faculty and was recently awarded an NIH Director’s Transformative Research Award.